My dad; everybody loves him. I mean EVERYONE. He’s one of those very rare people who is adored by anyone who meets him. And honestly, I see why. He’s kind, generous, mild-mannered, congenial, intelligent, wise…and every wonderful thing in between. A humble man, my dad is simply the best.

And that was a gift and a curse.

At least, that’s how I felt as a twenty-something coming into my own and trying to make my own way in life. I couldn’t help but see all that he accomplished as the bar for success in various aspects of my existence. If I was going to make it as an entrepreneur, I had to achieve a level of success near what he had accomplished. It felt impossible. I felt like I failed even before I tried anything.

Such was the same with the men in my life. I had grown up with the model of hard work, chivalry and responsibility in action. My dad worked 80 hours or more a week, only to come home and cook dinner, fold laundry or anything else that needed to be done. He never yelled, was never dramatic, and he was always the level head who looked at the bigger picture of any situation. He always did the right thing simply because it was the right thing to do. Anything below the bar of all my dad had been for me and my family would never do. And no guy ever did. I had a hard time finding anyone that fit at all near my dad’s example.

I’ve since moved into a healthier place with my expectations of men and myself, but my dad is still the bar to which I compare myself often – not because he expects me to, but because I adore and appreciate all that my father has taught and instilled in me. Even as an adult, I still want to be like him.

My dad taught me the value of quality time. Every year my father would let my sister plan trips that only involved him and her, and he would let me do the same. I remember him letting me plan a trip to New York City, where he let me order my first room service hot chocolate by myself. He took me to the opera and made a point to take me to get a princess dress, complete with a train and shawl. I remember feeling like royalty. Warm memories feeling like the center of his world will always bring a smile to face. I reflect on those moments when I spend time with my boys now. I want them to feel like I felt: that no matter what is going on in the world, I am always near, and I will always be there for them.

My father taught me to appreciate all that I have. He, an astute businessman several times over, grew up with very little and not much extra in his home. I remember listening to his stories of having to cut the toes out of his shoes because his feet seemed to grow faster than the little money that came into the house. He never let me forget that our family was blessed, and that I should always consider those less fortunate than myself.

Among so many other things, my dad taught me the importance of family. No matter what circumstances are impacting me, my mom or my siblings, no matter where we are in the world, my dad has proven that he will drop everything to be there for us. My children have that confidence, as well; Papa will drive from miles away to make sure that they are taken care of. No phone call to him goes unresponded, and no plea for advice or insight goes unanswered. It’s a security that I know many may not experience, but one for which I am truly grateful.

I can admit that I am a daddy’s girl, but I am extremely proud to wear that title. I’ve told him so many times how much he means to me, but I’ll say it a thousand times again, so he will never forget. He is my greatest teacher and loudest cheerleader. He is my rock, my everything. I wouldn’t be the person I am today had it not been for my father.

Happy Fathers Day.

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